On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
The Sweet – The Ballroom Blitz (1973)
We’re leaving New York, dear reader, and returning to the UK and to London. Formed in 1968, The Sweet became one of the biggest glam rock bands of the 1970s with their original line up of Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Andy Scott and Mick Tucker enjoying their greatest successes. We join the group in 1973 where they have topped the UK charts with the song, Block Buster, but 1001 Songs has gone with one of their follow-up singles by the name of The Ballroom Blitz instead.
Written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, The Ballroom Blitz is said to have been inspired by a show that The Sweet performed in Kilmarnock, Scotland, in January 1973. The crowd began throwing bottles at the band which forced them off stage. In the song, Brian Connolly addresses each of the band members and makes sure they are ready to start before launching into The Ballroom Blitz. He tells us about a dream he’s had of a crowd, in particular a man at the back and a girl standing in the corner. Through each verse the man instigates one thing at the show while the girl reflects on the situation. In the chorus the man urges the crowd forward to carry out the “ballroom blitz” of the title, while the girl comments that she wants to warn the band about what is coming. Is this all just a dream or is it really happening? It’s hard to say.
This is an energetic and raucous glam rock number from The Sweet. The song switches things up frequently with some nifty guitarwork from Andy Scott while Brian Connolly’s vocals are terrific, channelling some of the passion that Robert Plant brought to Led Zeppelin numbers at the height of their power. The Ballroom Blitz would hit no.2 in the UK charts but the band’s popularity petered out later in the decade. Connolly pursued a solo career in 1979 with the rest of the band breaking up in 1981. From 1985 onwards Connolly, Scott and Priest led three variations of The Sweet with Scott’s and Priest’s still going to this day, while Connolly’s ended with his early death in 1997 at the age of 51.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
The Kinks – Days (1968)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Carly Simon – You’re So Vain (1972)